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With the announcement of Ulta, Michaels, Jersey Mike's Subs and more stores soon to open, Hillside Drive will become an even busier retail corridor.
Shops at Broken Arrow (Phase 2, Between PetSmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods)
Hillside Crossing Shopping Center (Across from Sprouts)
Aspen Avenue & Kenosha Street (New construction)
The Rose District
Tiger Hill (pending land sale)
The development near Hillside Drive didn’t happen overnight. The Bass Pro Shops first opened in 2005; Target came four years later. During the announcement, Mayor Craig Thurmond and City Manager Michael Spurgeon provided some background on the economic development process and why shopping local is important for our community.
In the May 2017 issue of the FOCUS newsletter, Spurgeon explains what factors influence economic development. Read his message after the video.
Since joining the ranks of the public administration profession, one of the top three questions I always get asked by residents relates to economic development and how it actually works. I often hear questions like, "when are we getting this store or that store in our city" or "why can't we get this or that business like So-in-So City?" Since joining the City of Broken Arrow in September 2015, people in the community often ask me about retail development in the south part of Broken Arrow and when it is coming. The issue has come to the forefront recently after the Hobby Lobby on South Elm closed and opened a new location at 751 E. Hillside Drive off the BA Expressway, near the busy Bass Pro Shops retail corridor. Many are now wondering why south Broken Arrow isn’t developing the same way as north Broken Arrow.
First, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned in my nearly 30 years of direct economic development activities, which is this: the recruitment of businesses to a community is an extremely fluid and dynamic process. I'd compare it to sausage-making in the sense that there's a lot that goes into it in order for a business to come out at the other end. More specifically, there are certain aspects of what I'll call the “process” that a City can influence, and then, there are others that are simply out of our control.
For example, the two main tools in our proverbial economic development toolbox are: (1) the installation of infrastructure (e.g. road/streets, utilities and stormwater controls), and (2) the offering of financial incentives for attraction and retention. However, there's a trade-off that has to be considered, as any stimulus offered will come from anticipated sales or property taxes generated by the project. On the private sector side, please keep in mind that a company's ultimate decision on store placement/relocation is ultimately something we have limited influence over. Moreover, the business decision they make (on where to locate a new store) has both external and internal considerations. For example, three of the top external factors include: traffic counts in the area where they want to locate, household incomes in the target/market area, and the distance to any existing stores or competition.
TRAFFIC COUNTS MATTERAt this time, the current traffic counts in the south part of our city, and specifically on the Creek Turnpike and surrounding areas, are nowhere near those on the Broken Arrow Expressway (Highway 51). Conversely, the development of the north end of town can truly be traced back to the City reaching an agreement with Bass Pro to bring a new store to town, which opened in 2005. Since then, this regional attraction, coupled with improvements made by the City, and increased traffic counts, have resulted in the continued growth in north Broken Arrow. However, it's taken over a decade to see the area reach its full potential. Other external factors companies take into consideration include sustainability, public safety, parks, and quality of the school system. We are recognized as one of the safest cities in Oklahoma, and our school systems are top-notch.
SOUTH BROKEN ARROW IS GROWINGWith regard to the south part of BA, we expect great things in the next few years. Currently, there are over 1,800 housing units that have been approved within two miles of the Warren Theater/Aspen Creek development. To date, just over 500 of those homes have been built. When the additional homes are completed, traffic counts in the area will increase and average household incomes will rise. Improvement in these two factors will hopefully help businesses justify making investments in this part of town. We have also had preliminary discussions with BA School officials about the placement of a new elementary center in the area.
We have such great schools that such a decision will definitely help expedite growth in the area. Likewise, the City has positioned itself to reap the benefits of growth by widening Tucson and Aspen Streets and partnering with the developer to put in the infrastructure near the Warren Theatre. We also paid 80% of the costs to add exits onto Aspen from the Creek Turnpike. Finally, we have an incentive agreement with the developer to help him with recruitment. Quick note: at the City Council meeting on February 21, Development Services Director, Michael Skates, gave an awesome presentation on the current status of development in our City. You can view his presentation by going to YouTube.com/CityofBrokenArrow.
SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSESPlease note that under our current State of Oklahoma revenue model, the City's primary source of funding for services is sales tax dollars. Accordingly, when BA folks shop (everyday conveniences - e.g. gas, groceries, food, etc.) in other communities, you're actually helping pay for their city services (police, fire, parks, & roads) because the sales tax collected goes to them and not us. We hope you'd support our businesses when possible to help retain/create jobs and provide critical funding for Broken Arrow’s services.
In closing, I can assure you that our Mayor, City Councilors, City Administration, and the Chamber's Economic Development Corporation absolutely agree we need more development in the south part of our City, and we are working aggressively every day to bring more shopping options to the southern part of town. On a personal note, my wife and I live in south BA and absolutely love it, and want nothing more than to see additional retail in south BA!